Rudi's View | Oct 21 2021
In this week's Weekly Insights:
-The Basics Of Portfolio Construction
-Jumpin' Jack Flash Lives In The Seventies
-All-Weather Model Portfolio September Review
-Research To Download
By Rudi Filapek-Vandyck, Editor FNArena
The Basics Of Portfolio Construction
On my observation, the investment services industry is focused too mucn on providing the next hot tip and individual stock recommendation. Granted, there is obvious, natural demand for such 'information', but it is also my observation many an investment portfolio suffers from a lack of structure and/or a well-thought out strategy.
Hence, this week I am sharing my own thoughts and experiences with structuring and running an investment portfolio. May it help and assist those investors currently in the dark when it comes to defining a strategy and structuring their own longer-term oriented equities portfolio.
First up, I can report from personal experience, from the moment you are running a structured portfolio, you no longer are an investor in stocks. Just like a coach of a sporting team, you stop concentrating on each of your players individually. Instead, you start realising, and appreciating, the effort made as a team, though you never want to lose sight of the individual components, of course.
Putting a team together, which in this case equals a basket of stocks, starts with the realisation not all players on the field can be hot blooded race horses. The sun doesn't shine every day, all day and we must accommodate for four seasons that cannot be perfectly anticipated each and every time.
Hence we need some race horses, but equally a selection of sturdy, reliable muscle-machines that can pull a load when the weather is cold and the ground is wet and muddy. Apart from the occasional exception, a well-diversified selection means the portfolio never sees all stocks rallying or all falling on a given day, in particular not with share market momentum as polarised as it is this year.
As an added benefit: come the next period of share market weakness, we might feel less inclined to sell everything and hide under the bed.
Focus and momentum for the share market changes regularly, and often occurs completely unexpectedly. Instead of constantly shedding and selecting new stocks in order to minimise our losses and avoid missing the boat, once we have that structured portfolio in place, we find ourselves in the role of the master coach overseeing the team, making smaller changes here, and a minor recalibration over there, in response to a changing outlook.
Before we find ourselves in such a position, we need a basic road map as to how we get there and where to get started. In my case, I started with my own research into All-Weather Performers; reliable, proven business models with a track record of performance, not hindered by economic cycles to generate shareholder wealth.
How many stocks should I choose?
Over the past years, I have come to the conclusion that 6% as a full weighting for any given stock is an excellent target. It implies when the portfolio is fully invested the basket contains between 16 and 20 stocks, on average. That's a reasonable number that can still be overseen and managed, assuming they're not all high risk fly-by-nighters that need to be watched constantly.
As part of portfolio management, decisions can be made to allocate half-weightings, or reduced weightings, and in some cases of high conviction an overweighted position, but I would refrain from allowing any position to become too small or too large. As far as the first option goes: it's okay to have a punt every now and then, but if it's not worth owning at a sizeable allocation, is it even worth the energy and attention, let alone the risk?
There is no universal golden rule about what maximum size should be allowed, but I'd be hesitant to allow any given allocation to grow beyond 9% of the total. The reason is simple: risk. Take profits if you must. Consider it part of portfolio management.
On the other hand: don't feel like you need to top up on allocations that haven't worked out and shrink in portfolio importance. Better to always ask that question: where is my money in the best of hands? As impregnated as we all are by this idea that 'cheaper' stocks perform better than those that have already outperformed, the most often made error is selling the winners too early and putting more money into the laggards and losers.
I can guarantee you all this will be the first of lessons that will be learned, time and again, through running an investment portfolio.
As per the lists on the website currently, my research has identified 21 All-Weather Stocks, of which some are still "potential" and others are carrying a question mark. Should we simply buy all of them?
That wouldn't be much of a diversified structuring, would it? All-Weather stocks are spread out over multiple segments and sectors, but most share the same basic characteristics, including above-average Price-Earnings (PE) multiples, which means they potentially can land in or out of favour all at the same time.
Equally important, most investors want income from their portfolio and All-Weathers, if only because of their valuation, are not ideal for short-term income purposes.